Netflix film Beats has its heart in the right place, offering two engageable characters and driving a story straight out of Chicago’s South Side.
At the start of Netflix Film Beats, I was genuinely concerned that it was going to lack the emotional buy-in because the opening is curiously rushed to open up the premise. Beats bases itself in a black neighbourhood where gun crime is the norm, and the chance of making it to 18 is reduced. Director Chris Robinson hones that reality from the offset in the coming-of-age drama, which mixes a fallen-from-grace music producer with a high school kid with talent but who is crippled by PTSD due to the death of his sister from gun crime. Its political messages are clear, much like Stefon Bristol’s See You Yesterday.
Khalil Everage plays August Monroe, the hip-hop prodigy with the PTSD, unable to manage from the traumas of the fatal night where his sister was fatally murdered. Beats marks a genuinely fine performance from the actor – vibing the music that he can produce, but at the same time, can narrow his personality into a small box when the pressure compounds his mental instability.
Anthony Anderson cooly plays Romelo, the formerly disgraced music producer, holding down a high school security job to appease his estranged wife, the headteacher.
Romelo is the master of the coming-of-age story in Netflix film Beats. He creates August’s growth, who is unable to form his path. There’s a premise of an overbearing mother, played by the Orange is the New Black actress Uzo Aduba, who is fast becoming a well-known name, and a delight to watch on the screen. You can understand the restrictions she sets on her son, with the story mounting a journey where August becomes his own person.
Netflix film Beats struggles to maintain political messages while propping the story of an upcoming music auteur. It toys with the idea of a dangerous neighbourhood, and the need to escape, but it’s a balancing act that is not quite achieved when it gets into the thick of Romelo’s marriage and career history. Beats set up two characters that both have their issues, but in entirely different circumstances.
But at the same time, if you appreciate music, especially hip-hop, then Beats will encourage you to understand the message it’s trying to convey to the audience. The theme of releasing demons by using the freedom of music is emotionally appealing, even if the character development is misguided. The Netflix film hits home Chicago’s South Side, and its history of creating music. The heart of the movie is August’s beats, and it keeps it driving forward in the 110-minute feature that strays away from boring.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.